Crisis or Spiritual Opportunity?

A Message From Swami Chidananda Giri

March 25, 2020

Dear Ones,

As the days and weeks go by, and more and more people around the world are compelled to make major adjustments in their lives because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, again and again the prayers, love, and goodwill of all of us in Paramahansa Yogananda’s ashrams reach out to you in a powerful affirmation of the spiritual bond we share. And we feel and are deeply touched by your prayers and expressions of divine friendship, which so beautifully imbue this worldwide family of Paramahansaji’s followers with a tangible and courage-restoring vibration of mutual support and spiritual strength.

It has been said that one good thing about bad times is that they bring out, often in an extraordinary way, the very best within us—if we allow it. In any time of crisis, catastrophe, or threat down through history, we can see that people responded in one of two ways: Either they allowed themselves to be defined by the fears, limitations, and ignoble selfishness of their uncontrolled minds and untrained will; or they used that challenging time as motivation to discover and express the beautiful divine qualities and latent power of their unconquerable souls.

Each of us can make this (or any) time of world crisis a pivotal moment in our growth as individuals, as disciples of God and Guru. Let us be those souls who, years from now, look back on these difficult times and say, “Yes, that was when I seized the opportunity to bring out and manifest the results of my years of spiritual study and efforts at self-improvement. That was when I made the inner leap from just thinking about the spiritual qualities I hoped to achieve ‘someday’ to actually living them.”

Viewed with the eyes of faith and spiritual insight, all severe trials that afflict humanity come to point out the lessons needed to hasten our planet’s spiritual evolution. As I have said on other occasions, I believe the essence of what humanity needs at this point in history is specifically and concisely set forth by Paramahansa Yogananda in the nonsectarian and universally beneficial YSS/SRF Aims and Ideals. If we consciously embrace this opportunity, this will not be pri­mar­ily a period of distress and discouragement. Rather, let it be a time when we were challenged, and we rose to that challenge — when we did everything in our power, moment by moment, day by day, to make our Guru proud of us by our adopting his liberating ideals as our own.

How blessed we are that we have been given, in his YSS/SRF teachings, the spiritual tools we need to show up on the battlefield of life as a fully equipped divine warrior — armed with powerful positive thoughts and the will to act on them, with the knowledge of the potent influence of mind and soul on the health of the body, with the abilities needed “to overcome evil by good, sorrow by joy, cruelty by kindness, ignorance by wisdom,” and with the courage and confidence of a conqueror. As difficult circumstances put to the test what we have studied on the spiritual path, let everything we have absorbed be transmuted from learning into doing. In that process we will discover strength we may not know we had, and a practical, intuition-guided understanding of the right actions to take, and (most important) an expanding capacity to love. In situations that challenge our outer sources of stability in life, let us learn to face our own fears and insecurities and give them to God, instead of allowing them to make us irritable or impatient toward those around us. The example of kind, cheerful, calm, and inwardly steady meditators encourages others to be the same. In such ways, challenges like those we are passing through benefit not just our own spiritual growth, but that of those around us and humanity as a whole.

Even with the challenges that each of you face at this time, I know that your hearts feel deeply for the many other souls around the world whose lives and safety have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. And I am grateful and inspired that so many of  you are joining us monastics in Yogoda Satsanga Society of India and Self-Realization Fellowship in praying daily—not only for those who need healing, but also for the health-care and other essential-service providers in many walks of life who through their skills, compassion, and courage are helping us all. I urge you to continue your prayers, performing our Guru’s healing technique either in your homes or during one of  the many group meditations scheduled at the SRF Online Meditation Center.

Protect yourself and others by observing the health and hygiene guidelines mandated for your locale; and if  “social distancing” rules create a little extra time in your daily routine, use it gratefully to uplift yourself and all whom you can touch and serve by your right actions. As an outwardly distanced but inwardly united band of souls, let us continue to charge ourselves from the Infinite Source of strength and inspiration. By attuning our hearts and minds with God’s presence, making Him the Polestar of our consciousness, we will find our way through these dark and difficult times safely and victoriously, while doing our part to contribute to the ongoing spiritual evolution of the entire human family.

May God and Guru bless and guide you always,

Swami Chidananda Giri

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